The N.C. Senate released its proposed budget Monday after the House passed its plan last month. Here are some key points:
Tighter than the House’s proposal
The Senate’s proposed budget would increase spending by 2 percent to $21.47 billion, lower than the House’s proposed budget, which totals $22.2 billion with a 5 percent increase.
Teacher salary increase
Early career teachers would benefit from salary increases in the new proposal. Teacher pay would increase an average of 4 percent, with newer teachers seeing the biggest increases. The proposal would raise the starting salary to $35,000, compared with the current $33,000.
Reduced class sizes
The proposed budget would also aim to reduce class sizes in early grades in the coming years. By 2017, class sizes would be reduced to 15 students per teacher for grades 1 to 3. Kindergarten classes would lower to 17 students per teacher in two years.
Salary increases for some state government employees
The Senate opted in its plan to raise salaries for specific hard-to-fill positions in state government in an attempt to retain employees in these areas instead of funding an across-the-board raise for all state workers. Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown said these specific raises need to come before a universal raise.
Changes to tax system and Medicaid
Several tax changes are also attached to the budget proposal, including lower personal income tax rates, a change in corporate taxes, a new formula for distributing sales tax revenues among counties, and an adjusted jobs incentives program.
The Senate also wants to transfer Medicaid to an outside agency overseen by appointees from the House.